From Birch Gold Group
In a recent column on Forbes, contributor Carolyn Rosenblatt outlines an emerging variant of the classic phishing scheme in the form of a scam call from a supposed Social Security representative. Instead of trying to get personal details through email, Social Security scammers will reach the victim via phone, utilizing fairly advanced technology to spoof the caller ID in order to increase their aura of legitimacy.
Although spoofing technology has been around for a while, many still aren’t aware of how easy it is to obtain and use efficiently. These cases often happen to be the elderly, who, as Rosenblatt explains, are the primary victim of Social Security scammers.
Most scams are based on instilling a sense of fear and urgency in the victim, and the Social Security spoof is no different. The process typically involves the caller informing the victim that their Social Security number has been blocked, which can quickly lead to panic among those who rely on Social Security to cover most if not all of their financial needs. Senior citizens represent a major percentage in this group, making them the ideal target for those lacking morals.
After being told that their Social Security is no longer valid, the scammer offers the victim an easy way out of the ordeal through a combination of phone verification and a one-time fee. Because the caller’s number appears legitimate and the scammers tend to be seasoned conmen, thus knowing exactly what to say, the elderly victim often falls for the ruse and hands over both their money and personal details.
While handing over money to a thief is unpleasant, giving them a checklist of your personal details can be far more damaging. Rosenblatt recounts a story where her aging mother-in-law was a target of an identity-theft scheme. Although the woman remained sharp in her advanced age, she happened to have an ongoing Medicare claim at the time, inadvertently providing the scammer with a perfect timing window. This, coupled with spoofing technology and a well-rehearsed routine on the scammer’s part, led the woman to hand over many of her personal details. Rosenblatt notes the crisis was averted as the family immediately learned of what happened, but even then, it took months to cover the security holes created by a single scam call.
The example shows that, although the elderly are the primary target, anyone can be caught off-guard with the right timing and the right set of circumstances. In all such cases, scammers will look to create panic and chaos while promising that they are the only easy solution to the problem. As with all scams, a calm overview of the situation will take away most, if not all of the scammer’s luster: in the case of fake Social Security calls, simply knowing that a real Social Security representative would never ask for personal details via phone will render the identity thief’s effort useless.
Knowing what to look out for is key to defending against most scams. To help you detect and avoid financial scams, Birch Gold Group has pulled together an extensive resource guide that is now available on our website. The Birch Gold Group Scam Protection Resource Guide helps you identify warning signs and provides you with tips on how to avoid fraud.